“Rose’s Thorns” – A Keys From The Golden Vault Preview

Keys From The Golden Vault comes out tomorrow, so I wanted to post a quick preview and some thoughts on its contents before my full impressions come out later this week.

For those still in the dark, Keys From The Golden Vault is another 5e anthology book, collecting a bunch of adventures written and designed by freelancers under a single theme. So far we’ve gotten a few of these anthology books; Candlekeep Mysteries provided a collection of more cerebral D&D experiences, Ghosts of Saltmarsh gave us some murky nautical romps, Journeys Through The Radiant Citadel gave us fantastical planar locations, and Tales From The Yawning Portal gave us a bunch of classic D&D modules with a 5e update.

Keys From The Golden Vault is a collection of thirteen heists. That’s right, it’s ‘oops all bank jobs’ the book. Heists admittedly went out of fashion for me and a lot of others around 2019 (“You son of a bitch, I’m in”) when the format of them was memed to death, but considering that D&D 5e’s sole roguish heist adventure Waterdeep: Dragon Heist is barely a heist at all, the book is a welcome collection of diverse and interesting locations to sneak about it with a crew of roguish types.

You’ll have to wait until the end of the week for my full impressions, but one thing I’ll say about the collection is that a large number of the adventures involve cults, eldritch things, and otherworldly threats. It all feels very pulpy and Lovecraftian at times, full of locations like museums, casinos, universities, mansions, and other places that feel more out of the 19th century than medieval fantasy, which I think is great.

Rose’s Thorns, a rival roguish crew

The first chapter of KFTGV is about working as a heist crew and the possibility of encountering a rival crew after the same prize as you. While a sample rival crew is provided, I thought I’d introduce my own custom crew to serve as an example of the kind of party that would fit these adventures well.

Also, KFTGV makes it clear that any class of character is an asset to a crew. Rose’s Thorns just happen to be made up of mostly rogues.

Rose’s Thorns operates out of the attic and backrooms of Montblanc’s Curios in the Chasm District of Neverwinter. They steal the valuables, and Montblanc, a precocious gnome wizard and antiquarian, fences them for interested buyers. The organization is unique in that all of the titular ‘Thorns’ have non-monetary motivations for the jobs they take and what they do with their ill-gotten gains.

Rose Royce, female half-elf rogue (thief)
The eponymous leader of the group, she’s a diminutive high elven noble and dilettante who moonlights as a burglar as a way of acting out against her family and station in life. The group is made up of her friends, lovers, enemies turned lovers, lovers turned friends, and lovers turned enemies then back to friends.
Rose is wealthy enough to not want for money, so she spreads her earnings around a variety of orphanages and charitable causes in the Chasm District, which has been all but abandoned by the Lord Protector of the city. She steals from the rich to assuage her guilt about Neverwinter’s nobility doing nothing to help the less fortunate.

Bastion Khord, male half-orc rogue (scout)
Bastion is the closest thing Rose’s Thorns has to ‘muscle’. This brawny half-orc is a painter and artist by trade, but his keen eyes and ears make him an ideal scout and lookout for the group. Bastion prefers getting dressed up and gossiping with fancy people at fancy parties when he’s on the job, but more often than not he’s the one holding open doors and punching out guards.
Bastion lives the modest life of an artist, and is in this line of work to get up close and personal with art objects and antiquities. He’s the kind of guy who goes to a museum and laments that he can’t touch or smell the artifacts. Most of his earnings are spent at taverns, fest halls, and coffee houses once the job’s complete.

Ink, female tiefling rogue (arcane trickster)
An apostate from a family of infernal cultists, Ink, known to a few as Reita Medina Belacova, is a woman always looking over her shoulder. She likes the anonymity that a life of crime affords, keeping her flush with cash with no paper trail, and the ability to pick up and move at a moment’s notice. Ink is the problem-solver of the group, using her arcane talents for larceny and the occasional charm person spell.
Ink works as a rogue out of an obligation to Rose from their time spent in the misty lands of Barovia. She doesn’t like to go into the details, but it’s clear she feels she owes Rose a debt of some kind. She spends her earnings on tobacco and smutty chapbooks.

Claudia Deepveins, female halfling rogue (shadow)
An expatriate of Gloomwrought in the Shadowfell, Claudia is another noble scion turned thief in order to distance herself from her family. She differs from Rose in that in her old life she worked as an assassin. Now, she’s trying to put her killing days behind her, using her shadow borne powers more for thievery and subterfuge. She most often plays the part of a decoy for the group, but sometimes falls back into being a fixer.
Claudia arrived in Neverwinter already a wealthy woman. For her, pulling off heists is all about the thrill of working a job. She loves the tension and the drama of it all, pitting her skills against a problem. She spends her earnings on the arts, loving to see plays and shows and rub elbows with the highborn of the city.

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